Why Are They Angry With Us? Essays on Race, by Larry E. Davis, Chicago, IL, Lyceum Books, ISBN 978-1-943137-12-1, 2016, 130 pages, $34.95.
In Why Are They Angry With Us?, Dr. Larry Davis has written a book that analyzes the complexity of racism and its impact on both those who are oppressed and those who are privileged, in an accessible format. “Race is what I always have thought most about,” Dr. Davis writes in the introduction. From his personal narratives as a multi-racial boy to his unique perspective as a social worker and educator, he analyzes internalized racism, White privilege, and the differences between African Americans and immigrants. “In fact, I have been thinking about race as long as I can remember thinking about anything,” Dr. Davis states. “Race was very much a topic in our home and, most probably because of this, it became my primary tool for analyzing life.”
As a young boy, the author remembers asking this question: Why are they angry with us? This quintessential question provides the foundation for the series of eight essays. This boyhood question led him to ask why a marginalized population—subject to racism in housing, education, voting rights, and mass incarceration—would be the target of anger? This is especially relevant in the political climate in which White Americans are longing for the “good ole days” and African American males are victims of “legalized” gun violence from Ferguson to Cleveland to Chicago. Why are Whites angry at African Americans? This book provides some answers.
In the focus on “internalized racism,” Davis provides a clear picture of the struggle to “free Black people from psychological legacy of anti-Blackness.” He discusses the long-term disadvantages of internalized racism for the African American community, including Black-on-Black crime. He uses the detrimental impact of internalized racism as the lens to explain the recent movement of Black Lives Matter as a principled stance to internalized racism, not as an anti-White movement.
This book is relevant because it addresses many issues that confront the African American community in the “post-racial” days after the election of President Obama. It is a response to the notion of a “color-blind” community where it is unacceptable to discuss race. The author contributes to the scholarly, complex, and often difficult conversations that are taking place in the electronic and paper media about race, racism, and racism’s impact on the contemporary political situation in America.
Why Are They Angry With Us? is accessible and easy to read. It would be beneficial for social work students trying to understand the roles of internalized racism and internalized dominance in clinical social work practice. It provides insights to social work practitioners about the internal world of their clients and encourages understanding of the person-in-environment perspective necessary for effective social work intervention. This book is also useful for anyone who wants to enhance knowledge and understanding about race, racism, and race relations in the U.S. today.
Reviewed by Edith C. Fraser, Ph.D., MSW, ACSW, retired professor and administrator, Oakwood University, Alabama A & M University.